Corporate Constipation

Subject: Corporate Constipation
From: Maurice King <Maury -dot- King -at- MCI -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 09:20:36 -0400

In February, I returned to the United States after more than two decades of
residing abroad. In preparation for the job search that I would be
conducting, I posted a resume on a Web site designed for listing jobs and
job seekers in high-tech for the region in which I would be settling. I
also contacted a number of companies prior to arrival. Little did I
anticipate the sluggish response that would follow that would bear the name

To give an indication of how effective my pre-travel search had been, when
I arrived, I already had a number of companies who had called me with
"immediate" job openings. In my first week, I had interviews. In my second
week, I had more interviews. In my third week, I was starting to panic,
because NOBODY was calling back.

I was hardly a newbie. I had a track record of success and considerable
experience to show. Nonetheless, the responses just weren't coming. Some of
the explanations include:

* "The Human Resources manager is preparing for his daughter's wedding."
* "The department manager is sick."
* "The person who has to interview you is out of town."
* "We haven't started reviewing applications yet."

These were all for job openings that were "urgent." I wondered if the word
"urgent" had changed its meaning since I had left the United States,
because clearly it did not mean what I had thought.

I had also returned to discover that it was virtually impossible to rent an
apartment without being able to prove a source of income. That meant having
a job. Without a residence, I couldn't register my son in school. Every day
was misery for me; I waited by the phone and even called to do the
follow-up myself. There were no rejections, only these lame responses as to
why no action had been taken yet on the job openings.

Ultimately, I surfed the Web, found a job posting, e-mailed a resume and
immediately called up to inquire. When I did so, I had an interview the
next day and was accepted for work immediately following the interview. The
next day I signed papers, and I was in at last. That enabled me to move
into an apartment, register my son in school, and resume life.

During the first week of work, however, I was swamped by calls from
companies with whom I had been negotiating earlier! Suddenly they just
couldn't wait; as they saw it, I HAD to come to them. I HAD to start work,
and that meant without delay. Never mind the fact that I was about to pack
my bags and leave the US, thinking that I stood no chance of finding work!

One comment that recruiters in contracting companies often made deserves
some discussion. I repeatedly heard laments that my references were "all
outside the United States." You would have thought that I was a wetback! In
addition, many of them assumed up front that I required a work visa; it
wasn't so easy to drive home the point that I was an American citizen. In
the very international mix that now characterizes the high-tech market, I
was truly unprepared for this attitude.

I must also mention that the job I secured within 48 hours pays a salary
some $10-15,000 per year higher than most of these "urgent" jobs that took
so long before they took action. This was my good fortune, but it also made
me wonder about the whole issue of salary levels. I know that surveys have
little meaning, but I find it hard to justify such a wide range of salaries
as I discovered as a result of my job search. The job that I now have pays
considerably better than the others, and the company did not keep me
waiting. The other companies sounded indignant that I did not wait for them
to work for lower wages. I do not begin to understand this attitude, nor do
I care to.

If any of you are responsible for hiring in your organizations and you hear
the sad refrain that it's hard to get good people, hear the words of
someone who knows WHY we good people are a vanishing breed. If there is a
job to fill, keeping candidates waiting for unjustifiably long periods of
time is a great way to reduce the chances of filling it with the right

- Maury King
Maury -dot- King -at- mci -dot- com

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